Garcia on the Acid Tests
Great interview with Jerry Garcia about Kesey and the Acid Tests.
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Pulling Furthur From the Swamp
A Group Effort
October 3, 2005. The entire Prankster crew working hard to get Furthur unstuck. The beginnings of a very big day. Unedited and uncut.
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"Your Own Movie"
“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”
—Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
Stories and Photos
The community of people who care about this project is rich with stories told in words and pictures. Here, we hope to share many of those stories. In this section, you’ll find a blog where we’ll tell you more with each passing month about the history of the Furthur bus and the people surrounding it. We’ll also keep you up to date on the progress of our fundraising efforts and the restoration itself.
But it’s not just about us telling you stories. We want to hear—and see—yours too. Please visit the Stories section to read stories submitted by visitors to this site and people supporting the project—as well as a few “special guests.” And check out the Photos page photos captured throughout the years of the bus, the Pranksters, and the extended Furthur family. Of course, we want your pics too, so send them in!
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We’ll review your story. Watch the Stories page for updates.
Submit Your Story
Use the form below to send us your personal story.
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So glad to have the support of these important donors.
We had over 130 donors who contributed money during our initial “seed funding” drive on GoFundMe.com. Through their generosity and willingness—just this once—to trust a Prankster, they helped us get Furthur Down the Road and this website rolling forward. Among those first donors, our special thanks to these people who contributed $250 or more.
- Woody Woodruff
- Flight Inspired
- James McElwee
- David Leeds
- Alex Davie
- Dan Tappan
- James D. Mayol
- Allen “Avvy” Lint
- In Memory of Chad “Pill” Williams
- Jane Miles, in Memory of Jeffrey Kinnell
- Mark Hebard
Here are some resources where you can learn more about Furthur, the Merry Pranksters, and Ken Kesey.
Furthur and Furthur: Zane Kesey talks about his father’s famous bus, the Dead and the Prankster legacy, Jason Johnson, Eugene Register-Guard
Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place, a film by Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood; Zane Kesey, Producer
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe
Furthur Down the Road would not be possible without the generous support of numerous partners who’ve provided their products or services free or at greatly reduced rates. We’re so glad these talented experts and companies are “On the Bus.”
Web Design and Development
Wayne Skipper, Jeremy AAsum, Jason Cowsill, and Cale Bruckner
Concentric Sky, Eugene, OR
Pam Whyte, Emge & Whyte, CPAs, Eugene, OR
Officers & Board
Furthur Down the Road is managed by officers and a board who are passionate about restoring Furthur and promoting what it stands for.
Tell Your Friends
Share! Share! Share!
It’s a social media driven world, and as you Deadheads out there know, “We are everywhere.” The more people who know about what we’re doing, the more money we’ll raise, and the sooner Furthur will be back on the road. So share this site with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, and every other channel you can send the message on. You can also print out a great little poster to hang up where like-minded folks frequent. It has a scannable QR code on it that will send people right to the site on their mobile devices. Or get this sheet of cards/stickers (Avery label size 5164) to hand out at music festivals and other events.
Work With Us
Furthur Down the Road is currently looking for highly qualified volunteers to help us run the organization and spread the word. If you have any of these skills and are passionate about saving Furthur, please email us.
We want your help getting the word out at events, shows, schools, and wherever we can spread our message. You don’t even need to sign up. Just download these posters or handouts, print them up, and post them or distribute them far and wide.
Marketing and Public Relations Professionals
If you’re a marketing or PR professional who’d like to put your talent to work to save the bus, we want to hear from you—especially if you’ve got the following skills: email marketing, Marketo adminstration, copy writing, social media marketing, graphic design, and SEO/SEM expertise.
We always looking for those who have considerable experience managing nonprofits to help us with a wide array of administrative tasks, from volunteer coordination, to bookkeeping, to general administration.
It’s taken the help of several great professional partners to get us this far. We’ll need many more as continue our fundraising and begin to restore the bus.
We’re beginning the process of finding the team of automotive restoration experts to take on this important project. If you’ve got a great portfolio of successful similar projects, we’d like to hear from you.
"Never Trust a Prankster"
The Merry Pranksters were a group of friends and family associated with Ken Kesey. Many lived together communally in a house La Honda, CA, and several traveled together across the country in Furthur in 1964.
A group of Pranksters and friends posing around Ken with the new bus.
By varying accounts, the original Pranksters included
- Ken “Intrepid Traveler” Babbs
- Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Adams
- Ron “Hassler” Bevirt
- Page “Zealot” Browning
- Jane “Generally Famished” Burton
- Neal “Speed Limit” Cassady
- Mike “Camera Man” Hagen
- Denise “Mary Microgram” Kaufmann
- Paula “Gretchen Fetchin” Sundsten
- George “Hardly Visible” Walker
- Sandy “Dis-Mount” Lehmann-Haupt
- Kathy “Stark Naked” Casano
- John “Sometimes Missing” Babbs
- Steve “Zonker” Lambrecht
Who Was Ken Kesey?
Novelist. Explorer. Prankster. Artist. Entertainer. Athlete. Teacher. Father. And so much more. Ken, the creator of the Furthur bus, was so many things to so many people. His influence on literature, art, and culture in the 20th Century is rivaled by few others. Perhaps best known for his 1962 best-selling novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey’s impact spread far beyond literature. With his band of “Merry Pranksters” he often rubbed shoulders with numerous other musical and artistic powerhouses of his day. The Oregon Historical Society has called him “a founding father of the 1960s counterculture.”
The Early Years
He was born Kenneth Elton Kesey, September 17, 1935, in La Junta, CO, to Geneva and Fred Kesey. The family relocated to Oregon eleven years later, where Ken would spend the majority of his life. A superior athlete, Ken excelled at wresting in both high school and at the University of Oregon. Passionate about reading and films, Ken showed clear promise as a writer throughout his academic career. While still at the University of Oregon, Ken eloped with his childhood sweetheart, Norma “Faye” Haxby, and they remained married for the rest of his life. They had three children together: Jed, Zane, and Shannon. Ken also had another daughter, Sunshine, in 1966 with fellow Prankster, Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Adams.
Stanford and Beyond
Following graduation from Oregon, Kesey moved to California to attend the creative writing program at Stanford University. While there, he met numerous people with whom he formed lifelong friendships—Ken Babbs, Ed McClanahan, and Larry McMurtry, Wendell Berry, and others. It was also while at Stanford that he volunteered for experiments being conducted at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital. Unknown to him at the time, these experiments where he was given psychoactive drugs, including LSD, were part of the CIA’s MKUltra project. After many experiences with LSD, Ken came to believe the substance had great positive potential. At a time when much of the US was focused on the Space Race, and exploring further and further away, Kesey saw psychoactives as tools for exploring inward, learning more about ourselves and others, and finding new ways to see the world already around us. With this belief at heart, Ken “liberated” some of the LSD from the veterans hospital and shared it with friends. He also used his experiences working at the hospital as the inspiration for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which became immediately successful upon its publication in 1962, providing Ken with fame and the financial freedom to continue to follow his heart—and his art.
The Acid Tests and Furthur
Predictably, the LSD experimentation and associated parties, which would come to be known as “Acid Tests,” grew in popularity. Largely because of this, the awareness of LSD spread throughout American culture. In 1963, Ken moved from Palo Alto to a house in the woods in La Honda, CA. The La Honda house became the “home base” for the Merry Pranksters, and the site of many Acid Tests. The “house band” was often The Warlocks, who would shortly become the Grateful Dead. It was 1964, while Ken was working on his second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, when Ken got called to New York on work related to the book. He and the Pranksters decided to go together and made it a mission to see the World’s Fair, which was being held in the city that year. They purchased a 1939 International Harvester school bus, gave it the most psychedelic paint job the world had ever seen, and made the trip that would grow to become one of the most famous cultural journeys of modern times. Furthur was born, and become one of the most important historical, artistic, and cultural touchstones of the entire era.
In 1965, Ken ran into legal trouble for marijuana possession, after his return to California. After faking suicide and running away to Mexico, he returned to the Bay Area to face the charges. He served a short stint in the San Mateo County jail, and agreed to publicly denounce LSD. With a wink and a nod, he held the “Acid Test Graduation,” before leaving California and moving back to Oregon, where he settled on his Pleasant Hill farm.
During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Ken continued to write. In 1984, Ken suffered the loss of his son Jed in a tragic auto accident. Kesey continued to perform, though, often appearing on stage at Grateful Dead concerts. He also made a number of trips with the second version of Furthur—including one to England and another to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland—and performed his musical play Twister to numerous audiences on the West Coast. When he wasn’t traveling, performing, or writing, Ken spent his time working on the farm or enjoying the company of his extensive family and friends in the Eugene, OR area.
Ken Kesey died of complications from liver surgery on November 10, 2001, leaving behind legions of mourning fans, and a world forever changed for the better because he had been in it.
Here are a few sources to help you learn more about Ken Kesey’s life, work, and art.
-Ken Kesey, Wikipedia
-Ken Kesey Biography, Oregon History Project
-Psychedelic 60s: Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters, University of Virginia Library
Tell Your Story
Did you ever meet Ken? Maybe you didn’t, but feel you were greatly impacted by him in some other way. We’d love to hear your stories and share them with others on this site. Click here to send us your story about your experience of Ken and how he affected you.
Furthur: The Bus Then & Now
In the 60s
In 1964, Ken Kesey and his group of “Merry Pranksters,” fueled by LSD and a free-wheeling spirit of adventure, painted a 1939 International Harvester school bus in DayGlo colors and piloted it across the US on a trip that would go down in history as a cultural milestone. The bus, dubbed “Further” (or “Furthur,” varying by day and mood), was purchased largely with Ken’s earnings from the publication of his best-selling novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Tom Wolfe’s popular 1968 account of the trip and the bus, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, would go on to cement Furthur and the Pranksters as cultural icons signaling broad changes in American society.
What it Represents
More than any other work of art, the bus represents the sweeping changes that came over the country in the 60s. As people began to question traditional values and means of expression, Furthur stood as a highly visible representation of a new brand of American freedom. In a highly positive and meaningful way, its whimsical character became a metaphor for a new brand of psychedelic exploration. While the Pranksters, themselves, bridged the gap between the Beats and Hippies, the bus was a physical manifestation of the idea of a psychedelic trip.
By the late 1960s, the original Furthur began to fall into disrepair. By that time, Ken had returned to Oregon, where he raised his family, continued to write, and taught at the University of Oregon. While a second version of Furthur (not “Furthur 2”) was created in the late 1980s, the original bus was resigned to the “swamp,” a wet, low-lying area behind the Kesey family farm. Overgrown by weeds and surrendered to the wild, the bus remained in the swamp till October 2005, when a group of about 30 Pranksters, family, and devoted fans cut away the blackberry vines and trees that had overtaken it and pulled it free. During its time unprotected in the outdoors, Furthur largely rusted away. The interior rotted, and the once-beautiful exterior art faded nearly completely away.
Let’s Bring it Back
Following its initial rescue in 2005, the bus has been safely secluded away in covered storage. Lacking the significant funding necessary to rebuild it and restore its art, it has continued to slowly rust. With your generous donations, and the help of highly qualified restoration experts and artists, we hope to soon return the bus to its 1964 splendor, and preserve this important and inspirational artifact to inspire future generations as has inspired so many others.
Further (bus), Wikipedia
Magical Mystery Tour, Smithsonian.com
Furthur Down the Road (FDTR) is an Oregon nonprofit corporation that is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and that is a public charity described in Internal Revenue Code Section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) and 509(a)(1). FDTR accepts contributions of cash and of publicly traded, unrestricted, securities. All such contributions are tax deductible (subject to any limitations the donor may have on his or her or its charitable contribution deductions). If a donor would like to discuss contributions of other types of property, please contact Jason Johnson at (775) 573-8747 or by email at email@example.com.
The Furthur Down the Road Foundation is devoted to restoring and preserving author Ken Kesey’s original Furthur bus, with the aim of educating and inspiring current and future generations about Kesey’s life, works, philosophy and art.
Gifts & Donation Incentives
Great, Limited-Edition Donation Incentives
Free love, free minds, and free spirits defined the 1960s, but it’s gonna take real money to restore the bus. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get anything in return, though. So, while supplies last, we’re offering some unique donation incentives to those who help us out.
- Donate $25 and get a Ken Kesey poster.
- Donate $30 and get a cool enamel pin.
- Donate $50 and get two pins.
- Donate $60 and get two pins and the poster.
- Donate $100 and get four pins and the poster.
- Donate more? Let’s talk. Email us for details.
Click “Donate” next to any item. We’ll contact you once we receive your donation to find out which item(s) you prefer.
Domestic (US) shipping only, please. We will happily ship to international locations for those willing to pay international shipping charges.
Have questions? Email us for details.
There are probably as many myths about Furthur as there are facts. Stories about Ken Kesey, the Furthur bus, and the Merry Pranksters have taken on lives of their own, often beyond the “truth.” That’s frequently a good thing, and to be expected for such magical topics. We get lots of questions, though, and we’ll try to answer some of them here.
“Didn’t I see Furthur, fully functioning and beautifully painted, in recent pictures or at show somewhere?”
Yes. There is a current version of Furthur (pictured below, getting a touchup) on the road. It’s maintained by Zane Kesey, and he frequently displays it at festivals and concerts on the West Coast. It’s not the original 1939 International Harvester, though, that made the famous trip. That one is still a rusted hulk awaiting our restoration help.
Is it “Further” or “Furthur”?
Yes. Actually both are “correct.” The Pranksters prefer to be open minded on the topic, and use both spellings, depending on how the mood strikes them. The Furthur Down the Road Foundation settled on spelling it with a “u,” as the IRS and other entities were less flexible than the Pranksters about the spelling.
Photos of Furthur, Kesey, and the Pranksters
Stories: Send Us Yours
Furthur is much more than a bus. It and what it stands for have affected millions of us in so many ways. We want to hear those stories from you and share them with others. It’s more important now than ever to keep the “Prankster spirit” alive. We’ll give your stories about Ken and the bus a place for all to see, now and far into the future. Click here to submit your stories to inspire, entertain, and educate others who visit this site. We’ll post as many as we can.
Our goal is to raise at least $1 million by the end of 2014. So we’re counting on you to give what you can afford to help us get there.
Money isn’t the only way to help, though. We need your support in other ways, too. You can be a major part of saving Furthur and restoring it to its splendor by doing any of the following:
Share! Share! Share!
It’s a social media driven world, and as you Deadheads out there know, “We are everywhere.” The more people who know about what we’re doing, the more money we’ll raise, and the sooner Furthur will be back on the road. So share this site with everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, and every other channel you can send the message on. You can also print out a great little poster to hang up where like-minded folks frequent. It has a scannable QR code on it that will send people right to the site on their mobile devices. Or, you can print this sheet of cards/stickers (Avery label size 5164) to hand out at music festivals and other events.
Work with Us
Check out our Work with Us page to learn more about volunteering and employment opportunities with Furthur Down the Road. We need people who are intensely passionate and the absolute best at what they do. Check back often as we grow to see if we’ve got an opportunity for you. It takes all kinds of skills to make this project possible, so whether you’re an artistic restoration expert, a master auto restorer, a nonprofit management guru, or PR professional, it’s likely we’ll need you soon. Lots of other volunteering jobs too.
Organize an Event
We’ve already been approached by a number of promoters and entertainers about organizing concerts and other events to raise money for Furthur. While we don’t currently have the staffing to do the “heavy lifting” it takes to organize such events, we’d sure love to hear from those of you who do. If you’re interested in putting on an event to raise money for Furthur Down the Road, we’d love to hear from you. Before we give you the green light to raise money in the Foundation’s name, we’ll need to know you’ve got the experience and infrastructure to be successful, but if you do, please contact us to discuss possibilities.
Tell Us Your Stories
Furthur is much more than a bus. It and what it stands for have affected millions of us in so many ways. We want to hear those stories from you and share them with others. We think it’s more important now than ever to keep the “Prankster spirit” alive. We want to give you’re stories about Ken and the bus a place for all to see, now and far into the future. Click here to submit your stories to inspire, entertain, and educate others who visit this site. We’ll post as many as we can.
Share Your Photos
Photos of the bus from it’s glory days are exceedingly rare. If you have photos of the original Furthur you’d be willing to share with Furthur Down the Road, please contact us. We’d also love to get your personal pics of the original bus or the current Furthur, Furthur-inspired art, and related images. You can send it to us here. Obviously, we can’t post everything, but we’ll share what we can here on the site. Please only send us photos for which you own/control the rights. Your submission constitutes permission to use the image on furthurdowntheroad.org.
Sign Up for Our Newsletter
We want to keep you informed about our efforts. Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send you occasional updates about fundraising progress, events in your area, special offers, and ways you can help us succeed. You can unsubscribe at any time.
The Bus Came By...
Join us on our journey to restore the Furthur bus. Check in frequently to learn more about the history of the bus, the people surrounding it, and our efforts to restore this magical psychedelic transport.
2014: The 50th Anniversary of the Furthur Bus!
If you’re a fan of Ken Kesey, the 1960s, or anything related, it’s probably hard to believe we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of Furthur’s famous trip across the US. 2014 will be the year, though. And what Furthur represents is as important now as ever. I hope you’ll spend some time exploring this section of the site to learn more about Furthur’s history, and Ken’s life.
The Furthur Down the Road Foundation is an Oregon-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring Ken Kesey’s original Furthur bus. The Foundation was founded by Stephanie Kesey (Ken’s daughter-in-law) in 2008, when she recognized we were in danger of losing this valuable historical and artistic icon forever. The Furthur bus spent many years exposed to the elements in a swamp behind the Kesey farm. Though it was extricated from there in October of 2005, it remains a shadow if its glorious former self—a rusted hulk awaiting a monumental injection of money, Love, and TLC.
Furthur Down the Road’s aim is to raise money to…
- Fully restore the Furthur bus to its 1964 splendor.
- Provide for the maintenance, transportation, and storage of Furthur for an ongoing event and museum loan program.
- Fund the day-to-day operations of Furthur Down the Road, such as administrative staffing, fundraising, and online presence.
- Establish an endowment to fund the Foundation for many years to come.
2014 is Furthur’s 50th, and we aim to raise at least $1 million by the end of the year.
Any donation amount, no matter how small, will help us help Furthur.
Ken Kesey’s Furthur Bus, featured in Tom Wolfe’s popular 1968 book, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, is one of the seminal cultural icons of the 20th Century and a project that Kesey considered one of his “best works,” along with his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The bus played a huge role as a symbol of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. It was the “prime mover” for Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, and can even be said to have had a role in the launch of the Grateful Dead, perhaps the greatest band to have grown out of that era.
Founded by Stephanie Kesey, the Furthur Down the Road Foundation is an Oregon 501c3 nonprofit corporation established to “restore the original Furthur Bus to it’s 1960s condition, and to promote and preserve the legacy of author Ken Kesey.” The bus is currently rusting away and we’re in danger of losing this important artifact forever.
The Furthur Down the Road Foundation was founded in 2008 and plans to raise it’s first $1 million by the end of 2014. Funds raised will be used to…
- Fully restore the Furthur bus to it’s original 1964 splendor. The restoration will be completed by a talented team of artists, automotive restorers, period experts—and, of course, with the help of original Pranksters.
- Provide for the ongoing maintenance, transportation, and storage of Furthur for an ongoing event and museum loan program.
- Fund the day-to-day operations of Furthur Down the Road, such as administrative staffing, fundraising, and online presence.
- Establish an endowment to fund the Foundation for many years to come.
We aim to involve the original Pranksters in the restoration efforts, and have the support and involvement of the Kesey family, including Zane and Stephanie (Ken’s son and daughter-in-law), Caleb (his grandson), and Faye (Ken’s widow), who all have roles as officers or board members at Furthur Down the Road.
Won’t you help us with your contribution so we can share this important artifact and get future generations “on the bus”?
A key ingredient to the cosmic cookie dough that – once properly baked – gave us the enduring legend of Furthur was music. It should be noted that the relationship between Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and the music of the Acid Tests, and in particular, the Grateful Dead, came a few years after the cross country trek that began in the summer of 1964. Read More.
Properly Tuned, the Radio Crackles and We Listen…
We all know what they say about the best laid plans, don’t we? Here in the realm of those we call the Merry Pranksters, that paradigm really applies to any laid plans, never mind the best ones! In other words, here we celebrate randomness and embrace the spirit of anything goes. If ever there was an instruction manual for how to go about saving the bus, a step by step primer dead-icated to throwing a little sunshine on our daydream – well, somebody seems to have chucked it out the window before we’re even out of first gear. And truth be told, we wouldn't want it any other way. Read More.
Kesey Papers Find a Home
Not long ago, Faye Kesey McMurtry, widow of noted author and cultural visionary Ken Kesey, reached an agreement with the University of Oregon that will ensure all of her late husband’s papers are kept in Oregon. The vast collection of manuscripts, journals and other correspondence will be cataloged and cared for by the university he attended from 1953-1957. Included in the collection are early drafts of both “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion.” Read More.
Welcome, Intrepid Travelers
Welcome, all intrepid travelers. For those who navigated to this space with some sense of purpose and understanding, we hope you like what you see and come back often. For the rest of you... Read More.